Hi. My wife and I divorced 6 years ago and I have had shared custody of my daughter ( now 11 ) for most of that time, which has worked with my ex's work routine, with us having custody from Sunday to Wednesday morning, when she is dropped at school and subsequently collected by her Mum at the end of the school day. I have a new 1 year old boy with my new partner, who has been an amazing and deeply involved step mother, going beyond the call of duty to make our family life work, given my own busy work life (albeit working from home ) However, since our daughter started secondary school last month, and her mother has altered her work pattern ( for the moment, not working at all ) she very swiftly demanded that the arrangemtn change, with only Sunday and Monday, and us dropping on Tuesday. She has told us that this is what our daughter wants, and agreed this with her without any mutual consultation- and has told me that talking about it would put our daughter in an awkward position as she would have to explain why she wants less time at our house ( this I can understand ) however, I am sensing that the situation may have been manipulated slightly and possibly words put into her mouth for her. Whilst I understand that an 11 year old has opinions and feelings which ought to be heard and taken into account, I don't feel that she ( the child ) should simply get to ask for a changed arrangement and have it happen with no discussion. After many years of hard work bringing her up and giving her a very solid, happy and consistent home life, this feels like a very rapid change which only results in less quality contact time- which seems to partially stem from superficial things like having a pet cat, more "fun" foods that she likes etc at her Mums, and ' being allowed to stay in bed longer in the morning ' altough in reality we only live a few minutes further away, being in very close proximity to her mother's house ( 4 minutes on a train, 8 minutes by car ) and having always had drirect contact with her school and social life. I feel that as a working precedent has been set, which is well documented, I should be able to put my foot down and say no to this, unless properley negotiated. Whilst I am prepared to be flexible, and always have been, with events being requested at very short notice during my time with her, and occasionally vice versa, I feel that the diminished amount of contact time with her father ( especially as she is now going to an all girls school ) is not good right now. However, short of asking my daughter to come to my house after school on Tuesdays and defy her Mother's wishes, or going to get her, which would not feel good, I can't see a constructive way forward here......I would like my daughter to be left with a sense that her feelinds are being taken into account- but I don't think that aged 11 she should get to call all of the shots here.... I'm wondering about the best person to consult about this- even before mediation- possibly a child psychcologist ( not with my daughter present ) to get some insight into how to approach this?
I have raised the issue very carefully with my daughter- rather than asking her why she wants to spend more time at Mum's, I have talked about the recent change to the schedule ( it kicked off when I had to do a 3 week course away from home at the start of the new term - but I really only did this course BECAUSE her Mum had asked to have a bit more time with her at the start of term because she was concerned about the first week or two of new school and they live right next door to it.... )
I mentioned that I felt that family life was a bit different in the two houses but I felt that each family had something different to offer and that I felt that seeing each other for shared time would still be good for her, because she and her little baby brother would get to spend time together, and that she would be a part of our our family unit with all of it's joys and realities, operating, working, and negotiating day to day things with each other which would not happen so much with the other household only being her and her Mum - which can sometimes seem a bit more "her-centric" . I have steered clear of suggesting that she is bad or wronf to be wanting more time at her Mum's-
She is not a shy girl at all, and is very verbally open- but she has not seemed to want to respond much- the only thing she mentioned was that her Mum books more fun things to do. However, as she has always had her on Saturdays, and we on Sundays, it is not so easy to do big days out as so many family events seem to be booked for Saturdays, plus it is always school the next day so they are able to go out together in evenings and we are not. She never wakes up at ours unless she has to go to school ( except in the holidays ) but at her Mum's she gets to lay in and have relaxing mornings....
She said yestereday (after I suggested that we have a conversation about it ) " I don't really like conversations" and wanted to get off the subject as soon as possible, and did'nt really want to engage. When I ask her what she has discuseed with her Mum, she always says " I can't remember "
That's great- I'll consider doing that. Many thanks.
I am aware of a glitch with the site this morning - so please reassure me - you did indeed get my long answer?